Attempts to Shop

There must be a memo I missed because I’ve tried twice so far to pop down the road to get a couple of supplies in, and each time the queues have been longer and more fraught – to the point where I’ve given up each time.

The first time was early in the day and I hadn’t realised that the elderly and infirm were having their early hour today. Well I didn’t realise until I saw their queue snake round the carpark and felt the weight of some hundred-plus pensioners giving me the evil eye.

When I tried again a few hours later, they had finished that queue but then the main queue was somehow four times longer. I couldn’t face that either. I’m now weighing up if I can face another attempt. At least its not holding to Sunday Trading hours, or I’d have run out of time today.

On the other hand it does mean that I have managed to have my threatened tshirt cull and have items I can offer round the polycule before donating anything unclaimed. Lady M has already nabbed several plain tops that she has declared suitable for workwear.

Short Story: Commercial Break

The streets were packed, all ages and backgrounds enjoying the bright afternoon. Most were bundled up against the cold, which was almost knife-like if you stood in the wind. The seasonal celebration decorations were long gone now. The crushed white grass where the local church had raised a marquee for an extended craft fair was the only sign that something had happened here.

Today, commerce was the priority of the crowds. The bargain season may have come and gone but there was always reason to come to market, or to frequent shops and bars. Some of those shops were desperate enough to have employees outside their doors, trying to entice visitors in. Whether it was leaflets or free samples, the goal was the same: bring them in, get their money.

Ashmerrian, the Angel of Profit, turned to Garrashin, the Demon of Bargain-Hunting, and blinked all six of his eyes in disbelief. “I’m sorry?”

“Want to swap jobs for the afternoon? Spice things up a bit?”

“No! What on earth has prompted that? – I’m hoping it’s earthbound influence anyway…”

“I just thought you’d fancy a challenge?” Garrashin flashed his beautifully even teeth in a dazzling grin that made a nearby nun look thoughtful.

The pair were standing in the crossroads outside the busy shopping centre, observing the mortals around them. You would be forgiven for wondering how it was that an angel and demon could manage to not be the centre of shocked attention. The depressingly familiar reason of course was that people just didn’t want to see them. A handsome devil may be one thing, but a seven foot winged serpent quite another. Far simpler to ignore them and go about your day.

Ashmerrian folded his wings and fixed the demon with his best icy glare. “Hardly a challenge for either of us, especially here. Besides, haven’t you got a quota for deceptive deals to fill?”

“Maybe? I was hoping you could show me how it’s really done.”

“Oh get thee behind me.” Ashmerrian snapped.

“Worth a try.” Garrashin muttered. “Well if you’re going to be a spoilsport about it, I’ll be off.”

“Back to the Pound Shops again?”

“No, I know they’re your favourite.” Garrashin pouted and disappeared in a piqued cloud of brimstone. Ashmerrian shrugged and tried not to feel put out. He decided to move on, and did so in a frankly mysterious way.

Christmas Raid

Normally the Lady M and I have finished shopping for people’s Christmas presents by now, but with the chaos of this year we’ve been a bit behind schedule. Today was the day we remedied that.

We targeted Kingston, and with a sort of mental list we descended into the tinsel-strewn maze of shelves and staircases to be found in our favourite haunts. Like most mental lists and battle plans, it didn’t long survive contact with the enemy.

I can’t do the thinking and word type things any more…

Admittedly we stopped for lunch after filling the first set of bags, but we managed to tear ourselves away after a mere five or so hours of running relays from shops to the car and back.

That’s when we decided to stop in at the local supermarket on the way home for “just a few more bits.”

We may have been a bit punch drunk by this point. I may have babbled at a few people online in the queue; and I’m still not sure why a supermarket employee insisted on showing me a picture of his mate in Lahore who apparently looks a bit like me. He may have been trying to chat me up, but I was too tired to notice or respond. 

Lady M, who had wandered away to grab some batteries, was rather amused, and just mused she literally couldn’t leave me alone for five minutes.

Whoever that was, sorry for not doing more than giving a slightly frozen grin while my eyeballs rotated in their sockets.

But hey, all the Christmas shopping is now done! Well, until payday and the sight of something else shiny, no doubt.

Next year I think we’ll go back to being organised, or at least buying things in smaller batches across the year…

A New Map

I’d seen The Discworld Emporium advertised in a few places, both around the wider ‘net and in Terry Pratchett fan groups and been tempted by a few of their offerings. I hadn’t ordered anything until earlier this month though, due to nothing quite leaping off the page until then.

Then they released a colouring map of Ankh-Morpork, and Lady M and I both grinned in anticipation.

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Much of the appeal of the shop is that most of the memorabilia they sell can be seen as items stolen away from within that flat, magical world. There’s a whimsy to their offerings that appeals. Their good reputation in the groups also tipped the balance.

I ordered the map, and then forgot all about it as life threw some extra curveballs and we got earnest about our decoration.

Yesterday I dropped in to the post office to pick up an undelivered parcel. I had no idea what it was until I saw that it was a poster roll, and it had some decidedly Discworld elements to it: namely Ankh-Morpork Post Office Stamps and warning notices about snails, dribbling toads, and alchemist guild-made contents.

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Inside was a glorious map of The Big Wahoonie, and a personalised thank you/non-delivery note from the Ankh-Morpork Postal Service blaming “nae ordinary chicken!” which was why the non-magical Royal Mail had completed the delivery.

The map itself is on large high quality, thick and creamy coloured paper and the printing is clear and unsmudged. Details of the city’s landmarks are easily made out, but without labels so that you can stretch your imagination recognising them from descriptions in the book.

It’s little touches like this that mean I will be a return customer. I think I spent more time yesterday geeking out over the packaging than the actual contents, much to the amusement of colleagues and the staff at the local coffee shop.

Now our only decisions remaining are whether we’ll colour it at all, or only certain elements, before or after we mount it on the wall. I’m tempted to order a spare so we can frame one untouched and play with the new one.

Car Repairs, Christmas Shopping, and Everything

Busy day this week, and no sign of the pace really letting up just at the moment. The library continues to be short-staffed and demoralised ahead of a restructure, so I’m just focusing there on keeping busy and helping to decorate for Christmas. I’m mostly managing to be supportive and positive, except where I have to try and bite my tongue. It certainly hasn’t helped that this week had a major disruption with failures in a data centre move that knocked out all the IT systems for two days.

Today has been more about my time however. We’ve needed to get work done on the car for a few weeks and really couldn’t put it off any longer, so I was in Staines first thing to drop it off and head into town to buy some presents. Some of it was final top-ups for people, and some of it was specifically for Lady M, so it was a good excuse to take my time in various shops and to try out a number of places selling coffee. I’ve been reasonably successful on both counts, with the added bonus that the actual cost of repairs to the car came to less than the quote they’d originally given us. Can’t complain really.

I’ve even managed to get this week’s game written up while I’ve been commiserating with Charleesi, who is in the middle of her GCSE mocks while suffering with an epic head cold. She remains cheerful with a side order of slight exasperation.

I’ve even managed to get some time to play on the XBox – with some time on the Master Chief collection playing through the Halo CE campaign, and a side trip to look at two games I bought at the weekend for the 360 – Injustice and Prototype 2. I think I shall be kept reasonably entertained between these games between now and Christmas..!